Laser-plasma interactions have many theoretical and technological applications. One is the use of coherently accelerated electrons to provide novel sources of THz radiation. Our research focuses on simulating the cross/self-interactions between two high intensity, ultra-short, counter propagating and detuned laser pulses and an initial neutral target for controlled ionization. Unlike our previous studies of laser-matter interaction over preformed plasma, we explore the injection and collision of laser pulses to induce background plasma driven by the self-guided laser wakefield mechanism, which is then used to perturb the plasma resulting in induced dipole oscillations leading to transverse radiation. Inducing a cylindrical spatial plasma column within the laser beam radius regime provides a stable, spatially localized plasma channel. The emitted radiation from the plasma dipole oscillation (PDO) will not be affected by surrounding plasma absorption, resulting in effective radiation distribution. Results include 3D EM-PIC simulations and a comparison of the self- ionizing plasma against the preformed plasma to assess the efficiency of the mechanisms.
There is significant international effort focussed on developing ultra-high-power systems for next-generation laser facilities, such as the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI). Existing amplification methods are based on chirped-pulse amplification (CPA). However, the low damage threshold of conventional solid-state optics results in very large amplifiers and compressors. To overcome this challenge, we use stimulated Raman backscattering of a long pump laser in plasma to provide amplification for a low intensity seed pulse. Plasma has the advantage that it is already a broken down medium and therefore field intensities are not constrained as they are in conventional laser amplifiers. This offers the potential to reduce the size and cost of these devices significantly, while providing a possible route to reach exawatt powers, which will enable investigation of extremely high field physics.
Despite its advantages, efficient Raman amplification has not yet been demonstrated experimentally. Efficiencies are limited to only a few percent for seed energies of a few mJ, in contrast with theoretical predictions. Several phenomena lead to saturation or inhibit the amplification process – such as detuning, wavebreaking and particle trapping – depending on the amplification regime. Amplification is therefore highly sensitive to the conditions and parameters used. Raman amplification experiments are challenging, and careful planning is required to ensure that controlled and sustained amplification can take place. Numerical simulation is an essential ingredient to this preparation yet, like the experiments themselves, this is not a trivial task. The amplification process takes place over several millimetres, while structures on the short beat wavelength of the lasers need to be adequately resolved. Since particle kinetic effects are also important, a large number of particles are required. Simulation of the entire domain therefore requires significant computing resources, and therefore many investigations are only performed in 1-dimension. Moreover, the long propagation times involved allow numerical artefacts from processes such as grid heating or numerical dispersion to become significant. These can become pathological and artificially seed or disturb the amplification process.
Using state-of-the-art numerical techniques, we investigate the amplification of low- and high-intensity seed pulses in plasma, and compare their amplification growth rates and efficiencies with experimental results obtained by our group. The use of a chirped pump laser pulses is discussed and compared.
The increasing demand for high laser powers is placing huge demands on current laser technology. This is now reaching a limit, and to realise the existing new areas of research promised at high intensities, new cost-effective and technically feasible ways of scaling up the laser power will be required. Plasma-based laser amplifiers may represent the required breakthrough to reach powers of tens of petawatts to exawatts, because of the fundamental advantage that amplification and compression can be realised simultaneously in a plasma medium, which is also robust and resistant to damage, unlike conventional amplifying media. Raman amplification is a promising method, where a long pump pulse transfers energy to a lower frequency, short duration counter-propagating seed pulse through resonant excitation of a plasma wave that creates a transient plasma echelon, which backscatters the pump into the probe. While very efficient, this comes at the cost of noise amplification (from plasma density fluctuations) that needs to be controlled. Here we present the results of an experimental campaign where we have demonstrated chirped pulse Raman amplification (CPRA) at high intensities. We have used a frequency chirped pump pulse to limit the growth of noise amplification, while trying to maintain the amplification of the seed. In non-optimised conditions we show that indeed noise amplification can be controlled but reducing noise scattering also limits the seed amplification factor. Finally, we show that the gross efficiency is a few percent, consistent with previous measurements of CPRA obtained in capillaries with pump pulses of duration of a few hundred picoseconds.
It is well known that an infinite homogeneous Langmuir wave, formed by accelerating charged particles, it does not emit electromagnetic radiation because of its electrostatic nature, which is represented by the zero curl of the electric field. To realise emission, the plasma density must be tailored such that the Langmuir wave takes on a non-zero component of the curl of the electric field. The mechanisms of inverse mode conversion or travelling wave antennae leads to emission of radiation. In these mechanisms, the emphasis is on energy conversion of the Langmuir ‘wave’ to an electromagnetic wave. However, an interesting way to cause the plasma wave to emit radiation is to isolate a single ‘oscillator’ composed of a localized plasma block, i.e., a plasma dipole. An outstanding question in the realization of this idea is how to isolate the plasma oscillation from the Langmuir wave. To answer this question, we propose a novel idea of colliding detuned counter-propagating laser pulses in plasma. Simulation results show that radiation is emitted from the isolated plasma dipole.
Here we explore ways of transforming laser radiation into incoherent and coherent electromagnetic radiation using laserdriven plasma waves. We present several examples based on the laser wakefield accelerator (LWFA) and show that the electron beam and radiation from the LWFA has several unique characteristics compared with conventional devices. We show that the energy spread can be much smaller than 1% at 130-150 MeV. This makes LWFAs useful tools for scientists undertaking time resolved probing of matter subject to stimuli. They also make excellent imaging tools. We present experimental evidence that ultra-short XUV pulses, as short as 30 fs, are produced directly from an undulator driven by a LWFA, due to the electron bunches having a duration of a few femtoseconds. By extending the electron energy to 1 GeV, and for 1-2 fs duration pulses of 2 nm radiation peak powers of several MW per pC can be produced. The increased charge at higher electron energies will increase the peak power to GW levels, making the LWFA driven synchrotron an extremely useful source with a spectral range extending into the water window. With the reduction in size afforded by using LWFA driven radiation sources, and with the predicted advances in laser stability and repletion rate, ultra-short pulse radiation sources should become more affordable and widely used, which could change the way science is done.
In conventional radiation sources, narrowband radiation emission can be obtained by narrowband current oscillation. Usually the spectrum of the oscillating current is made narrow by a large or complicated structure for wave-particle interaction. One good example is the beam-undulator system. In this presentation, we introduce a new method to obtain a radiation emission with a well-collimated frequency without changing the broadband nature of a given current source. The method is based on our recent discovery of the new physical properties of the cut-off phenomenon, which broadly exists in general plasma-like media, such as plasma, waveguide, or photonic crystal, etc. A common feature of these media is the Bohm-Gross dispersion relation, which has a frequency condition to make the wavenumber zero. In the zero-wavenumber state, an electromagnetic wave cannot propagate through the medium, but instead, is reflected (i.e. cut-off). In regular steady-state analysis, the cut-off condition is characterized by infinite radiation impedance. An interesting question here is what would happen to the radiation power, if a non-zero current oscillating with the cut-off frequency were enforced in a medium (a current source, in contrast with the regular voltage source). A regular steady-state analysis for this situation leads to infinite power of radiation from Ohm’s law. We could solve such a paradoxical situation by analyzing the non-steady-state system; we found that the system can be described by a time-dependent Schroedinger equation with an external driving term. The solution of this equation shows a temporally growing electromagnetic field. When this concept is extended to a generally broadband current source, the spectral density at the cut-off frequency can be selectively enhanced (selectively enhanced emission, SEE). Hence a general broadband radiation source can be easily converted to a narrowband source by enclosing the system with a plasma-like medium. The current source seems to exist in many radiation systems with a low driver-to-emission efficiency. When the current is determined predominantly by the driver (for examples, laser pulses), while the feedback from the emitted field is weak, such current can be considered as a quasi-current source, We present a few examples (mostly from PIC simulations) to demonstrate the SEE; two-color-driven THz system enclosed by a tapered waveguide, THz emission from a magnetized plasma, and re-interpretation of experimental data. Those examples show that quasi-current source can be found in practical systems, and the SEE mechanism works.
The increasing demand for high laser powers is placing huge demands on current laser technology. This is now reaching a limit, and to realise the existing new areas of research promised at high intensities, new cost-effective and technically feasible ways of scaling up the laser power will be required. Plasma-based laser amplifiers may represent the required breakthrough to reach powers of tens of petawatt to exawatt, because of the fundamental advantage that amplification and compression can be realised simultaneously in a plasma medium, which is also robust and resistant to damage, unlike conventional amplifying media. Raman amplification is a promising method, where a long pump pulse transfers energy to a lower frequency, short duration counter-propagating seed pulse through resonant excitation of a plasma wave that creates a transient plasma echelon that backscatters the pump into the probe. Here we present the results of an experimental campaign conducted at the Central Laser Facility. Pump pulses with energies up to 100 J have been used to amplify sub-nanojoule seed pulses to near-joule level. An unprecedented gain of eight orders of magnitude, with a gain coefficient of 180 cm−1 has been measured, which exceeds high-power solid-state amplifying media by orders of magnitude. High gain leads to strong competing amplification from noise, which reaches similar levels to the amplified seed. The observation of 640 Jsr−1 directly backscattered from noise, implies potential overall efficiencies greater than 10%.